Thursday, October 20, 2022

Welsh government moves to end the handcuffing of children in care when they are moved between placements

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There was a bit of encouraging news today in the shape of a story in Social Work News:

Wales has become the first UK nation to protect children in care from being handcuffed or restrained when being transported between care settings, under landmark new regulations introduced by the Welsh Government.

The Senedd has published the Reducing Restrictive Practices Framework (RRPF), its latest framework to protect vulnerable children from harmful handcuffing and restraint practice.

The RRPF turns out to have been published two weeks ago and the relevant section reads:

There are circumstances where it may be necessary to use secure transport to move people between placements, outside of the criminal justice system.

Welsh Ministers are clear that it is not appropriate to use handcuffs of any kind during such journeys.

The use of secure transport itself should be only considered if, following a full risk assessment, it is deemed necessary to reduce the risk of harm to the person being transported and/or serious harm to others.

Where the secure transport services are commissioned, any use of restrictive practices during the transport of an individual should be reported to the commissioning agency. These incidents should also be recorded and reflected in data collecting arrangements.
The unnecessary use of handcuffs, with their implication of criminality, on children in care was flagged up by Fiona Simpson in a Children & Young People Now article last summer.

She reported on Hope Instead of Handcuffs, a cross-party campaign calling for legislation allowing children in care to be handcuffed while being moved between placements to be scrapped.

Hope Instead of Handcuffs also wants to reform the law in this areas. At present it allows private transport providers to restrain children without any regulation, monitoring or accountability.

Simpson quoted Emily Aklan, chief executive of children’s social care provider Serenity Welfare and founder of Hope Instead of Handcuffs:
"I've seen far too many children with red marks around their wrists with massive distrust towards the system which is supposed to be helping them. 
"But with no need to monitor and report any use of handcuffs and safeguarding issues preventing children from being able to share their stories, it’s been incredibly difficult to prove just how widespread this issue is."
What we need to see now is that rest of the United Kingdom following the lead of Wales on this worrying issue.

I suspect private companies are putting the need for safety above any other factor - certainly above the dignity and rights of children in care.


Andrew Kitching said...

Astonished and appalled that the practice is still going on.

Jonathan Calder said...

My impression is that it has become more common because the private companies that now do most of the transportation of children want to avoid all risk.